NNML – Pt 3 – Southern Bound

My route on the Northern New Mexico Loop saw me leaving the Continental Divide Trail for places less traveled.

But after my 17-mile spur hike to Cumbres Pass for resupply I needed to rejoin my route.

How best to get there? I could hitch, hike back seventeen miles….or take another option. An option that involved a scenic train ride, an AYCE lunch at the historic train depot of Osier located in the Rockies and an eight-mile trek to rejoin my loop.

Guess which option I chose? 🙂

I left the CDT at a low point on the scenic Brazos Ridge and took my half-way point photo.

From this point, I descended into the lonely, little-visited, and memorable Las Cruces Basin.

I found a campsite nestled in the pines and soon found myself lulled to sleep by sound of the creek.

After leaving the basin, I made my way over  into the volcanic plain area of the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument.

A dry, sage-brush filled flatland but a desolation that this Moab resident finds attractive in its own way.

And this plain leads to a crux on my route – crossing the Rio Grande for the second time.

I’d cross at the historic Sheep’s Crossing and into the Wild Rivers Recreation Area of the national monument.

Otherwise, I’d have to backtrack sixteen miles along a slog of road walk.

A normal August means a straight forward crossing. During this high snow year and wet spring? Well…

After this crux and climbing up onto the other side of the Gorge, I enjoyed the views I remember from past trips.

After making my way to Questa and a quick resupply, it was time to join the Sangres at the southern end of the Rockies and walk among the highest points of New Mexico.

The NNML joins the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness with its ridgeline hiking in open meadows, makes a “U” towards the roof of New Mexico on Wheeler Peak, cuts through the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness again, and I’ll be in the Latr Peaks tomorrow. And then I head south again to where the magical Pecos Wilderness awaits.

The route is not maximized for efficiency. But rather plotted out in a way to explore the wonders of New Mexico that makes sense for a person on foot.

And when the route enables you to enjoy the high point of the state in solitude with that magical evening light? Awesome.

And if there is something as enchanting as New Mexico’s sunsets? It is a New Mexico sunrise. A sunrise showing the mountains I crossed the previous day.

I love New Mexico.

And the past few days only adds to my affection for “The Land of Entrapment.”

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4 years ago

Cruces Basin is a great hidden gem. Beautiful in another few weeks as the Aspens change.

4 years ago

“A dry, sage-brush filled flatland but a desolation that this Moab resident finds attractive in its own way.”
Well you aren’t the only one. I cherish areas such as that.
Wish this old guy still can get there one day. Everett Ruess territory?